Ice climbing is often associated with classic areas such as Ouray Colorado, Cody Wyoming, and the Beartooths & Hyalite Canyon in Montana, but often there are a few classics located in obscure areas. Looking for some new ice and to get out of our traditional stomping grounds, Dustan and I began researching Ice Climbing in central Wyoming and specifically the Wind River range. We came across Lake Louise Gulley in Dubois and decided to pull the trigger. Located in the Fitzpatrick Wilderness area, Lake Louise Gulley (WI3) and Golden Tears (WI4) are two classic multi-pitch, alpine style climbs ascending from Lake Louise. From US Highway 26, turn SE onto Trail Lake rd and follow this past Lake Julia, Torrey Lake, Ring Lake and Trail Lake until reaching the Glacier Lake trailhead. We set up camp here and hung out before waking up early to the next morning to climb.
The Fitzpatrick Wilderness area is a bear aware area and all food must be stored in bear-proof containers. We slept in our cars and carried bear spray on our approach to Lake Louise. The terrain is beautiful - a vast high desert feel winding through smooth rock and timber. From the parking lot, we followed the trailhead up and right slowly switchbacking up the ridge. After about 1 mile we crossed a bridge and continued 2.5 miles to a bluff overlooking the lake! The Lake is huge and frozen and gorgeous. (be careful crossing the ice as it is the easiest approach to the Gulley.) Some recommend bring ice skates. Although this would be fun, ice skating is a seperate adventure.
The Gulley (WI 3) is located on the left and Golden Tiers (WI 4) is located on the far right end of the lake. We decided to climb the Gulley for its huge ascent and moderate grade. The approach from the lake took us a couple hours crossing and traversing scree so make sure to allocate enough time. Once reaching the base of the climb there is an initial chimney-esque pitch leading to low grade couloir ice. We geared up here and lead the first pitch until out of rope. Build an ice anchor here and belay your partner. The second pitch continues up the gulley further and into the main ice flow. Build another ice anchor halfway up. The crux is the last pitch topping out high on the ridge overlooking Lake Lousie. Build another ice anchor in the top ice buldge. Traverse climbers left from the top and rappel from a tree down to a lower tree with many slings below. Be careful to properly guesstimate this rappel. From here rap another rope length and build a v-thread and continue down the gulley. This climb is spectacular and full on. I recommend bringing a full rack of ice screws and making sure you understand how to properly build V-threads for rappelling. Allocate about 8 hours round trip.
Climbing at Lake Louise is very committing and enduring. Make sure to bring bear spray and a headlamp. We ended up leaving in the dark. This area is a definite classic with ice similar to California Ice in the Beartooth mountains of southwestern Montana. A hidden gem!